Spain has some of the world's best beaches: from vast stretches of sand pounded by Atlantic surf along the northern coasts of the Basque Country, Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia, to rocky Mediterranean shores sheltered by pine forests, as well as those that attract hordes of tourists to the southern costas. EL PAÍS picks the best of the best for this summer.
Big is beautiful
East of Jandía, Pájara, Fuerteventura
The Canary Islands are not noted for their beaches, but the Janía peninsula’s 28 kilometers of soft fine sand takes some beating. The view from Pecenescal is spectacular, the windsurfing is fabulous and the inlets and caves in the cliffs make it a great place to explore. (The Canary Islands)
The Caribbean on your doorstep
S’Alga, S’Espalmador, Formentera
This 700-meter stretch of sand is part of the famous Ses Illetes beach, just 150 meters from the desert island of S’Espalmador where pirates were executed as far back as 1271 and which you can wade out to on a calm day. Take water and walk along the shoreline to the Almenera Tower. The amazing turquoise water – the result of the abundant Posidonia or Mediterranean seaweed – is hypnotic.
Figueiras, Islas Cíes, Vigo, Pontevedra
If it weren’t for the chill of the Atlantic, this spot would top the best beach lists. Its soft white sand, pine forests, spectacular setting, perfectly clear water and boat-free views make it an idyllic spot to spend a summer day. Most people are round at the nearby Rodas beach, which means it is unspoiled and about to be included in the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism
Trebalúger, Ferreries, Menorca
This is an example of how the local population can save a beach from the shark-like jaws of developers. Jealously protected, it remains unspoiled for beach-lovers to enjoy at the end of an hour’s walk through pine forests from Cala Galdana. After passing a cascading inlet, – you might have to get wet – you find yourself surrounded by 200 meters of virgin coastline where donkeys and cows gather in the distance to watch you have your lunch after a dip in the crystal clear water.
The natural Med
Los Genoveses, Níjar, Almería
Again, the size of this beach is one of its attractions. Set in the heart of the Cabo de Gata national park, this bay is a 20-minute walk from the town of San José. The gentle slope into the water and soft sand make it very popular, which is why car’s are restricted in summer and it’s best to get there early – or on foot.
Torimbia, Llanes, Asturias
This is one of the reasons the north of Spain is a viable alternative to the Med. Torimbia is a fine viewing point, but the best way to get to this nudist beach is from neighboring Toranda. The greenery surrounding it, as well as the sea, can be appreciated from its beach café, but if you’re going for a dip, be sure to take care as the sea here can be treacherous.
Cala Conta, Sant Josep de Sa Talaia, Ibiza
The series of beaches here lie amid coves scattered along a stretch of land with incredible views of La Isla d’es Bosc and 11 other tiny islands. As evening approaches, the Sunset Ashram is a perfect spot to watch the sun go down. (www.sunsetashram.com).
Urban, but neat
La Barrosa, Chiclana de la Frontera, Cádiz
The fine balance between development and nature is what makes this 8-kilometer beach a gem. Take a stroll from the town to the port and beyond to the dunes passing through tiny coves that shield bathers from the seafront hotels. The trendy beach cafés along the broad beach make for a chilled evening out with mojitos at sunset to the sounds of Carlos del Bongo.
The blue lagoon
Playa Negrete, Cartagena, Murcia
Entering Murcia’s Calblanque Regional Park from the visitor’s center, Las Cobaticas, we found a place to leave the car close to Negrete, an unspoiled, nudist beach where the yellow sands and ochre landscape turn golden at sunset. There is rarely much wind here, but the sea can be deceptive at times and there’s no lifeguard.
A green dream
Langre, Ribamontán al Mar, Cantabria
Langre is about as green as a beach can be. A surfer’s paradise, its sweeping stretch of sand and crashing waves are encircled by emerald fields beyond the 25-metre high cliffs. This is a nudist beach made popular by Spanish naturalist and broadcaster Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.
English version by Heather Galloway.